Home News Putin to visit Xi Jinping to test ‘unrestricted’ partnership

Putin to visit Xi Jinping to test ‘unrestricted’ partnership

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China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, met with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in China this week, just days after the two authoritarian leaders announced an “unrestricted” partnership to counter what they see as U.S. bullying and The bullying has been going on for over two years. put one’s oar in.

Increasing challenges from the West are testing the limits of this partnership.

Xi Jinping is walking an increasingly narrow tightrope as he faces growing diplomatic and economic pressure to limit China’s support for Russia and its war in Ukraine. Now, as Beijing seeks to improve its image in the West and retain access to Chinese exports to help revive its sluggish economy, an increased embrace of Putin risks further alienating Europe from a key trading partner.

“China regards Russia as an important strategic partner and wants to give Putin appropriate respect, but also wants to maintain good relations with Europe and the United States for economic and other reasons. This is a very difficult balancing act,” said Shen, a Shanghai-based international relations scholar. Ding Li said.

Putin, for his part, may be testing Xi Jinping’s appetite for risk as he seeks to prevent Western countries from more aggressively supporting Ukraine.When Xi Jinping met with President Emmanuel Macron in France last week, Mr Putin Ordered tactical nuclear weapons use drills. The move was seen as the clearest warning yet that Russia could use battlefield nuclear weapons in a war, something Xi Jinping has explicitly opposed.

The Russian leader is also likely to pressure Xi Jinping to provide more support to maintain Russia’s isolated economy and its war machine in Ukraine.

Putin just celebrated his fifth term as president, and if he completes his term, he will become the longest-serving Russian leader in centuries. Xi Jinping had just returned from a trip to Europe, where he was promoted in pro-Russian countries such as Serbia and Hungary and wined and dined in France. He left the region without making any major concessions on trade or Ukraine.

Xi Jinping has met with Putin more than 40 times, including more virtually than any other leader. The two often exchange birthday wishes and refer to each other as “old friends” or “dear” friends. What’s more, they also appear to view each other as strategic partners in a fierce geopolitical competition and may use the talks to portray themselves as leaders of an alternative global system aimed at undermining U.S. dominance.

“The purpose is to demonstrate the close cooperation between China and Russia,” said Sun Yun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center in Washington.

But this solidarity with Russia makes China a target of Western pressure.

The United States claims that while Beijing does not provide lethal weapons, it still assists the Kremlin’s war effort by providing satellite intelligence, fighter jet parts, microchips and other dual-use equipment. In addition, Beijing, as the largest buyer of Russian oil, also provides services to Moscow. Funding was provided. Washington has imposed sanctions on a host of Chinese companies related to the war and threatened to blacklist Chinese financial institutions that do business with Russian companies.

Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow’s war in Ukraine has also damaged China’s standing in the EU. In France, when faced with the war, Xi Jinping flew into a rage, saying that China was “not the source of this crisis, nor a party to it, nor a participant.”

Xi Jinping has given no hint that he will use his influence with Putin to end the war. He may not feel the need to do so.

China’s strategy of allying itself with Russia while trying to stabilize relations with the West — what some call strategic leapfrogging — could pay off.

Sino-US relations, which hit a multi-decade low last year, are now more stable. Key European leaders continue to engage with Mr. Xi, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who attended a meeting with business executives. visit beijing last month.

This approach is winning Xi Jinping more support at home. Chinese scholars and think tank analysts believe that the battlefield situation is changing in a direction favorable to Russia. Evan MedeirosProfessor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University.

“For Xi Jinping, strategic leapfrog works better than they imagined, and the price China pays for it is small,” he said.

Xi also needs Russia as a counterweight to his competition with the United States, which centers on U.S. support for Taiwan, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and access to cutting-edge technology. China and Russia have stepped up military exercises in the East China Sea to put pressure on Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.

“Even if China-Russia relations are not that close,” said Xiao Bin, a Beijing-based expert on China-Russia relations, “the political elite in the United States may not regard China as a strategic partner, but they will continue to regard China as a strategic partner.” As a potential partner. Threats, even enemies. “

However, Putin risks becoming overly reliant on China, a level of dependence that may have made Russian officials uncomfortable in the past. Since its invasion of Ukraine, China has become Russia’s lifeline, replacing the European Union as Russia’s largest trading partner.

Mr Putin continues to pursue his own interests.His growing ties with North Korea, which supplies arms to Russia, could lead to Less dependent About Beijing.

But cut off from the West, the Kremlin has little choice: Putin needs China to buy energy, provide dual-use components like computer chips to sustain his military, and provide a portable currency. foreign transactions.

Customs data shows that about 89% of “high priority” imports needed for Russian weapons production last year came from China analyze By Nathaniel Schell, Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. That includes everything from machine tools used to make military equipment to optical equipment, electronic sensors and telecommunications equipment, the analysis found.

“This is more like a survival mode. You are in a state of war,” said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Center and an expert on Sino-Russian relations. “

For Putin, he added, hedging against China “is a luxury he no longer has.”

Wang Aoli Contributed reporting.

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